Mites and lice are no fun for any type of pet. These tiny creatures even find their way into the backyard chicken coop, affecting the health of your chickens which affect the quantity and quality of eggs they produce.
If you've got a timber chicken coop, mites may be found living in the tiny cracks and crevices of the walls of your chicken coop. Mites can happily live within the timber walls for quite a long time, coming out mainly in the evening to feed on your chickens. As unpleasant as it sounds, mites are a blood sucking type of creature that draw blood from your poor chickens! Generally mites are black in colour but will appear to be more red in colour after a blood feeding from your chickens.
If you notice bald spots on your chickens, you may have a mite or lice problem in your chicken coop. Another sign of mites is the appearance of blackened feathers on your chickens due to the accumulation of dried blood and excretions, often under the wings of your hens next to the body.. It's wise to occasionally have a look through the feathers of your chickens for these very tiny creatures.
The simplest way to find mites that may be living within your chicken coop is to wait for night time and using a spot light, go out to your chicken coop. While your chickens may not like your sudden appearance at night-time, gently pick up one of your hens and shine your light close to the body of the bird, moving aside the feathers to see properly. Mites are tiny and close to invisible without magnification, so you'll need to look up close. If you see dark or red little creatures on your chicken, then you unfortunately have a mite problem! The darkened feathers from dried blood left behind by the mites are also a sign that you have a problem.
If the tiny creatures you find on your chickens are in fact white in colour these are most likely lice rather than mites. Lice are white and larger than mites and also feed on the blood of your pets. Interestingly mites are less 'host' specific compared with lice. Mites will feed on your chickens during the evening and then go back to the cracks and crevices in the walls during the day. In comparison, lice will stay on the same hen most of the time.
To treat your chickens you'll need an anti-mite or anti-lice powder that you can dust your chickens with, to discourage the pests. These can be found at fodder stores, vets and some garden centres. Many of these are fairly toxic, so read the label carefully before applying.
If you've found mites in your chicken coop, the coop itself will need to be cleaned thoroughly with a high pressure spray, that can get into the small cracks in order to really overcome this problem. Ideally you should remove as much wood as possible from your chicken coop area. If you haven't already purchased or made a chicken coop, you'll have fewer problems with mites if you chose one made from steel or aluminium. While mites can still appear in these coops, it's not as common and these types of coops are much easier to clean to remove these pests.
If possible, also allow your chickens the space where they can create a dust bath. A dust bath is when the chickens roll around in the dust and dirt. This is the natural way in which chickens help to deal with pest problems.
Be sure to look at Royal Rooster's great range of chicken coops that are made using aluminium frames rather than timber which attract mites! Royal Rooster also make slim-line drinker and feeder sets that reduce grain wastage and keep water nice and clean. http://www.royalrooster.com.au